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PARADISE LOST-BOOK IV.
[JOHN MILTON, the most illustrious of England's epic poets, was the son of a scrivener in London, where he was born in 1608. He was educated at Christ's College, Cambridge, where he took his degree in Arts. From College he retired to his father's Villa in Buckinghamshire. Here he wrote his "Comus," "L'Allegro," "Il Penseroso," and "Lycidas," poems of such merit as would have alone immortalised his name. After travelling for a few months on the Continent, he returned and settled in London. The troubles breaking out between Charles I. and his Parliament, Milton engaged as a political writer on the popular side, and for twenty years the poet disappeared in the champion of liberty and religion. In 1652 he was wholly deprived of his sight, owing to intense application to his studies. His later years were employed in the composition of "Paradise Lost," the grandest work of his sublime genius, "Paradise Regained," "Samson Agonistes," &c. He died in 1674.]
O FOR that warning voice, which he who saw
The Apocalypse heard cry in Heaven aloud,
Then when the Dragon, put to second rout,
Came furious down to be revenged on men,
"Woe to the inhabitants on earth!" that now
While time was, our first parents had been warned
The coming of their secret foe, and scaped,—
Haply so scaped his mortal snare! for now
Satan, now first inflamed with rage, came down,
The tempter, ere the accuser, of mankind,
To wreak on innocent frail man his loss
Of that first battle, and his flight to Hell:
Yet not rejoicing in his speed, though bold
Far off and fearless, nor with cause to boast,
Begins his dire attempt, which, nigh the birth
Now rolling, boils in his tumultuous breast,
And like a devilish engine back recoils
Upon himself: horror and doubt distract
His troubled thoughts, and from the bottom stir
The Hell within him; for within him Hell
He brings, and round about him, nor from Hell
One step, no more than from himself, can fly
By change of place: now conscience wakes despair
That slumbered; wakes the bitter memory
Of what he was, what is, and what must be,-
Worse; of worse deeds worse sufferings must ensuc.
Sometimes towards Eden, which now in his view
Lay pleasant, his grieved look he fixes sad;
Sometimes towards Heaven and the full-blazing Sun,
Which now sat high in his meridian tower:
Then, much revolving, thus in sighs began:
"O thou, that, with surpassing glory crowned, "Look'st from thy sole dominion like the god "Of this new world! at whose sight all the stars "Hide their diminished heads; to thee I call, "But with no friendly voice, and add thy name, "O Sun! to tell thee how I hate thy beams, "That bring to my remembrance from what state
"I fell,-how glorious once above thy sphere,
"Till pride, and, worse, ambition threw me down,
"Warring in Heaven against Heaven's matchless King!
'Ah, wherefore! he deserved no such return
"From me, whom he created what I was
"In that bright eminence, and with his good
Upbraided none; nor was his service hard.
"What could be less than to afford him praise,
"The easiest recompense, and pay him thanks,
"How due! Yet all his good proved ill in me,
"And wrought but malice: lifted up so high,
"I'sdained subjection, and thought one step higher
"Would set me highest, and in a moment quit
"The debt immense of endless gratitude,-
"So burdensome; still paying, still to owe,-
Forgetful what from him I still received;
"And understood not that a grateful mind
"By owing owes not, but still pays, at once
"Indebted and discharged: what burden then?
"O had his powerful destiny ordained
"Me some inferior angel, I had stood
"Then happy! no unbounded hope had raised
"Ambition. Yet why not? some other power
“As great might have aspired, and me, though mean,
"Drawn to his part; but other powers as great
"Fell not, but stand unshaken, from within
"Or from without, to all temptations armed.
"Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand?
"Thou hadst: whom hast thou then or what to accuse,
"But Heaven's free love dealt equally to all?
"Be then his love accursed! since, love or hate,
"To me alike it deals eternal woe.
"Nay, cursed be thou! since, against this, thy will
"Chose freely what it now so justly rues.
"Me miserable! which way shall I fly
"Infinite wrath, and infinite despair?
"Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell;
"And in the lowest deep a lower deep
"Still threatening to devour me opens wide,
66 "To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven.
"O, then, at last relent: is there no place
"Left for repentance? none for pardon left?
"None left but by submission; and that word
"Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame
"Among the Spirits beneath; whom I seduced
"With other promises, and other vaunts
"Than to submit; boasting I could subdue
"The Omnipotent. Ah me! they little know
"How dearly I abide that boast so vain;
"Under what torments inwardly I groan,
"While they adore me on the throne of Hell.
"With diadem and sceptre high advanced,
"The lower still I fall, only supreme
"In misery: such joy ambition finds.
"But say I could repent, and could obtain,
"By act of grace, my former state; how soon
"Would height recall high thoughts, how soon unsay
"What feigned submission swore! Ease would recant
"Vows made in pain, as violent and void.
"For never can true reconcilement grow
"Where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep;
"Which would but lead me to a worse relapse
'And heavier fall: so should I purchase dear
"Short intermission, bought with double smart.
"This knows my Punisher; therefore as far
"From granting he, as I from begging peace.
"All hope excluded thus; behold, instead
"Of us outcast, exiled, his new delight,
"Mankind, created, and for him this world.
"So farewell, hope! and with hope, farewell, fear!
"Farewell, remorse! all good to me is lost:
"Evil, be thou my good! by thee at least
"Divided empire with Heaven's King I hold,-
By thee, and more than half perhaps will reign;—
"As man ere long, and this new world, shall know."
Thus while he spake, each passion dimmed his face
Thrice changed with pale, ire, envy, and despair;
Which marred his borrowed visage, and betrayed
Him counterfeit, if any eye beheld:
For heavenly minds from such distempers foul
Are ever clear. Whereof, he soon aware,
Each perturbation smoothed with outward calm,
Artificer of fraud; and was the first
That practised falsehood under saintly show,
Deep malice to conceal, couched with revenge.
Yet not enough had practised to deceive
Uriel once warned; whose eye pursued him down
The way he went, and on the Assyrian mount
Saw him disfigured, more than could befall
Spirit of happy sort: his gestures fierce
He marked, and mad demeanour, then alone,
As he supposed, all unobserved, unseen.
So on he fares, and to the border comes
Of Eden, where delicious Paradise,
Now nearer, crowns with her enclosure green,
As with a rural mound, the champain head
Of a steep wilderness, whose hairy sides
With thicket overgrown, grotesque and wild,
Access denied; and overhead up grew
Insuperable height of loftiest shade,
Cedar, and pine, and fir, and branching palm,-
A sylvan scene; and, as the ranks ascend
Shade above shade, a woody theatre
Of stateliest view. Yet higher than their tops
The verdurous wall of Paradise up sprung;
Which to our general sire gave prospect large
Into his nether empire neighbouring round:
And higher than that wall a circling row
Of goodliest trees loaden with fairest fruit;
Blossoms and fruits at once, of golden hue,
Appeared, with gay enamelled colours mixed;
On which the sun more glad impressed his beams,
Than in fair evening cloud, or humid bow,
When God hath showered the earth; so lovely seemed
That landskip: and of pure now purer air
Meets his approach, and to the heart inspires
Vernal delight and joy, able to drive
All sadness but despair: now gentle gales,
Fanning their odoriferous wings, dispense
Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole
Those balmy spoils. As when to them who sail
Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past
Mozambic, off at sea north-east winds blow
Sabean odours from the spicy shores
Of Araby the Blest; with such delay
Well pleased they slack their course, and, many a league,
Cheered with the grateful smell old Ocean smiles:
So entertained those odorous sweets the fiend
Who came their bane; though with them better pleased
Than Asmodeus with the fishy fume
That drove him, though enamoured, from the spouse
Of Tobit's son, and with a vengeance sent
From Media post to Egypt, there fast bound.
Now to the ascent of that steep savage hill
Satan had journeyed on, pensive and slow;
But further way found none; so thick entwined,
As one continued brake, the undergrowth
Of shrubs and tangling bushes had perplexed
All path of man or beast that passed that way.
One gate there only was, and that looked east
On the other side: which when the arch-felon saw,
Due entrance he disdained; and, in contempt,
At one slight bound high overleaped all bound
Of hill or highest wall, and sheer within
Lights on his feet. As when a prowling wolf,
Whom hunger drives to seek new haunt for prey,
Watching where shepherds pen their flocks at eve,
In hurdled cotes, amid the field secure,
Leaps o'er the fence with ease into the fold;
Or as a thief, bent to unhoard the cash
Of some rich burgher, whose substantial doors,
Cross barred and bolted fast, fear no assault,
In at the window climbs, or o'er the tiles;
So clomb this first grand thief into God's fold;
So since into his church lewd hirelings climb.
Thence up he flew; and on the Tree of Life,
(The middle tree and highest there that grew,)
Sat like a cormorant: yet not true life
Thereby regained, but sat devising death
To them who lived; nor on the virtue thought
Of that life-giving plant, but only used
For prospect, what, well used, had been the pledge
Of immortality. So little knows
Any, but God alone, to value right
The good before him; but perverts best things
To worst abuse, or to their meanest use.
Beneath him, with new wonder, now he views, To all delight of human sense exposed,
In narrow room, Nature's whole wealth, yea, more,
A Heaven on Earth; for blissful Paradise
Of God the garden was, by him in the east
Of Eden planted: Eden stretched her line
From Auran eastward to the royal towers
Of great Seleucia, built by Grecian kings,
Or where the sons of Eden long before
Dwelt in Telassar: in this pleasant soil
His far more pleasant garden God ordained.
Out of the fertile ground he caused to grow
All trees of noblest kind for sight, smell, taste;
And all amid them stood the Tree of Life,
High eminent, blooming ambrosial fruit
Of vegetable gold; and next to life,
Our death, the Tree of Knowledge, grew fast by,-
Knowledge of good, bought dear, by knowing ill.
Southward through Eden went a river large,
Nor changed his course, but through the shaggy hill
Passed underneath ingulfed; for God had thrown
That mountain as his garden mould, high raised
Upon the rapid current, which, through veins
Of porous earth with kindly thirst up drawn,
Rose a fresh fountain, and with many a rill
Watered the garden; thence united fell
Down the steep glade, and met the nether flood,
Which from his darksome passage now appears,
And now, divided into four main streams,
Runs diverse, wandering many a famous realm
And country, whereof here needs no account;
But rather to tell how-if art could tell-
How from that sapphire fount the crisped brooks,
Rolling on orient pearl and sands of gold,
With mazy error under pendent shades
Ran nectar, visiting each plant, and fed
Flowers worthy of Paradise, which not nice art
In beds and curious knots, but nature boon
Poured forth profuse on hill, and dale, and plain;
Both where the morning sun first warmly smote
The open field, and where the unpierced shade
Imbrowned the noontide bowers. Thus was this place
A happy rural seat of various view;
Groves whose rich trees wept odorous gums and balm;
Others, whose fruit, burnished with golden rind,
Hung amiable, (Hesperian fables true,
If true, here only,) and of delicious taste.
Betwixt them lawns, or level downs, and flocks
Grazing the tender herb, were interposed;
Or palmy hillock, or the flowery lap
Of some irriguous valley spread her stores,-
Flowers of all hue, and without thorn the rose.
Another side, umbrageous grots and caves
Of cool recess, o'er which the mantling vine
Lays forth her purple grape, and gently creeps
Luxuriant: meanwhile murmuring waters fall
Down the slope hills, dispersed; or in a lake,
That to the fringed bank with myrtle crowned